I bet Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%, the 3D printed marathon shoes, must have motivated you to create something cool. It is wise to want to try 3D printing software before investing in a 3D printer. However, choosing a good free 3D printing software can be overwhelming. There are too many options where each one caters to a wide range of applications.
To simplify things a bit, we’ve compiled a list of the best 3D printing software for beginners. But before you take a look at the list, there is one thing you should know. If you’re already using Photoshop, you can get started right away. Photoshop also lets you create 3D models from scratch and print them using services like Shapeways 3D.
Kicking off the list is TinkerCAD, an online 3D design app that’s perfect for beginners. It uses a simple block building concept, which basically gives you access to basic shapes using which you can create your 3D models. This makes it a great tool for creating geometric designs.
TinkerCAD is fairly straightforward to learn and also has a lot of amazing tutorials to speed up the learning process. Once you are done creating a template, it allows you to easily share or export the file.
And if you don’t have a 3D printer, you can also use its third-party printing service integration to have your model delivered to your doorstep in no time.
Next up is Cura, another great 3D printing app for beginners from Ultimaker, one of the leading 3D printer manufacturers. Unlike TinkerCAD, Cura is cutting software for 3D printers that you can use to create a 3D model and cut it into layers as G-Code for the printer.
In addition to this, you can also use Cura as a safety measure for your models. It can tell you if there are any issues with the structure of your model that could cause printing issues.
This feature is a blessing for beginners as it ensures that you don’t waste printing material or time creating models with structural issues.
While TinkerCAD is great for creating geometric designs, you should give Sculptris a try if you want to create something a little more organic. It is quite simple to use and offers a few key features that will help you create stunning 3D sculptures.
Working on Sculptris is a lot like working with plasticine, which makes it one of the best options if you’re looking to create 3D models of things like cartoon characters; something you can’t do with TinkerCAD.
However, you will only be able to create very basic 3D sculptures with Sculptris. You will have to rely on other premium software like ZBrush to refine your designs later.
If 3D sculpting isn’t really your cup of tea and you much prefer software that relies on line drawings to help you create a 3D model, then you should try using SketchUp. The software is suitable for most skill levels because it has a natural learning curve. And once you get started, the software also offers some advanced features in the paid version.
Much like TinkerCAD, SketchUp is useful for creating geometric designs. The software is most commonly used for the design of architectural projects. So if this is what you are aiming for then you can’t go wrong.
The best part about using SketchUP is that it is also available as a web application. You can work on your design on any system as long as you have it saved to your account.
5. Mesh mixer
Meshmixer is another viable option if you are going to be sculpting organic 3D models as it uses triangular mesh to help you create smooth, even surfaces.
Just like Cura, the software also includes a feature that will help you check your model for holes and fix them in real time.
Along with this, Meshmixer is also ideal for preparing your designs for 3D printing. It includes tools to cut the sculpture for the 3D printer, generate supports for structural integrity, and even analyze the fragility of the design before sending it out for printing.
6. 3D slash
Now if you are aiming for a retro and blocky aesthetic for your 3D models then you should check out 3D Slash. The software allows you to upload your 3D model which it then breaks down into 3D building blocks.
You can then make changes to the model using a variety of different tools. However, you will face some limitations in terms of functionality in the free version of the software.
In addition to the ability to pixelate just about any model, 3D Slash also offers a VR mode. You can use this mode to get a clear view of the evolution of your model using a VR headset. 3D Slash comes with one of the simplest user interfaces of any software on this list. This is what makes it a fantastic option for people of all ages.
To top things off, FreeCAD, a parametric 3D modeling tool that will help you create precise geometric designs as spare parts for your gadgets. The software is not as good at creating new designs as it is at modifying existing designs due to its parametric component.
Modifying existing designs is fairly straightforward; all you need to do is head to your model history and change the settings. It is that simple.
So if you are not determined to create your 3D models from scratch, you should give FreeCAD a try. However, if you much prefer to create your own custom template, you had better go for one of the other options.
Last updated on August 8, 2019
The above article may contain affiliate links that help support Guiding Tech. However, this does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains impartial and authentic.